A question about gigs, PA's, and that sort of thing in general...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Grahams Groove, Apr 23, 2001.

  1. My band is going to be doing a concert to kind of kick off our new name etc....going to sell CD's and stuff... Heres the deal. We are expecting prolly around 200 people give or take a few...
    We have a 300 watt power mixer('ed) PA system with medium sized yamaha speakers. (12" drivers w/ 2" horn) and will be borrowing a friends power amp and speakers which are also about 250-300 watts, but they are much larger speakers. Then we have a loud drummer, i have a 200 watt bass amp (bassman), one guy has a 150 watt marshall("valvestate"), and one guy has like a 40 or 50 watt peavey solid state amp. We run the marshall, and bassman direct, and mic the peavey. We dont mic the drummer cuz hes loud enough allready. Here's where the question comes in...
    We play easier/mellow rock, and we play phish, some funk, and we jam etc... not heavy at all. So using this equiptment, we are hoping to achieve as much clarity as possible, and still have a loud enough sound. (We are envisioning our sound/ making it our goal to make it sound about the volume of a cranked up stereo in someones room...like a say 50 watt a channel stereo.) So comfortably loud, but not so loud that it sounds messy. If we are playing outdoors, do you htink this will be enough power etc??? I know its kind of general, and there are alot of variables in this "equation", but my friend thinks we should crank everythign to the limit including our own amps...I think that it will be too loud for only 200 people or so....what do you guys htink. Also, do you need alot less power if playing indoors? IE: a gymnasium or somehting like that?
    Thanks Graham

    Please, everyone let me know what YOU think...
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'm in the "the more the merrier" crowd when it comes to power, but you might be able to make it work with what you have. We run a 1500-watt QSC amp outdoors, one side to the mains (either JBL 925's or JBL 935's), and one side to the 18" subs (JBL 918's). We run the risk of being a little underpowered on the subs, but so far it hasn't been a problem. We run the monitors through a separate 200-watt stereo amp. This setup is good for about 50 to 100 feet away from the stage. My next investment is probably going to be a Mackie 2600 power amp so we can really crank it up. The 1500 watts will go to the mains with 2600 or so to the subs.

    Everybody (including the drums) is patched into the PA. That way, the sound man can adjust our sound as appropriate. What's really cool is that we (I) set the crossover to the subs at about 100 hz. Guess which instruments get into the subs' 750 watts of living sound? That's right! The bass and the kick drum. Bitchen.
  3. SuperDuck


    Sep 26, 2000
    Volume levels are pretty subjective, but here's a few tips...

    If you don't have a sound guy (and if you're in the Green Bay area, I do freelance, wink wink), just have someone with a decent ear stand out before the show and have them tell you what you need.

    If you don't want to blow everyone away, the Marshall won't need that much in terms of PA. I mean, a 100 watt guitar amp is LOUD and a 150 will blow the doors off of a buick, so just beware that too much of him in the PA will be overwhelming, and could potentially muddy up the mix, which is not what you want. I don't suppose you have a crossover? That could help a lot, considering that you have the bigger speakers (which I'm assuming means bigger drivers).

    Generally, yes, you do need a lot less wattage for indoor shows, because of natural reverberation. I learned that after teching my first outdoor show. Watch out for gyms though... they have some nasty rever that will f*ck everything up for you, unless it's filled with people to soak up some of that sound.
  4. I'm going to upset a few people here. I have been to too many shows where the bass was muddy and indistinguishable out front, but the bass player obviously thought it was "bitchin'" up on stage. I have been to a rare few where the bass was great, had clarity, tone , definition and balls. What was the difference? Sorry to the guy with the big subs, but that's where the problem lies. All the muddy basses I have heard were ones running heaps of sub. All the good, clear ones were running very little sub. Sure, lots of sub will get yer rocks off on stage, but the audience will think it's crap. How do I know this? Because I own my our PA, and I use a wireless setup, so I can go out into the audience and listen to the mix. I'm not a qualified soundman, but I bet I can get a far better mix than 75% of the idiots that pass for engineers these days. Case in point; a week ago I went to a Little Feat show. The sound of the bass and vocals were bad. I put up with it for 1/2 hour, then went over to the desk and politely pointed out to the "engineer" that the bass sounded like crap, would he kindly take some of the bass out of the subs. To my suprise he did, and the bass sound improved instantly. Bass fundamental frequencies sound great when soloed, but lousy in a band mix. IMO.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Outdoors you have no walls and ceiling to reflect sound, so you need to move a lot more air to get to the same volume. You'll easily be able to hear this onstage, you'll be cranking your amps quite a bit higher outdoors.

    The setup you are talking about will be OK if you're not trying to be real loud. It may not be as "clean" as you'd like, you'll run out of headroom on your PA pretty quick.

    Indoors you'll be able to get a lot louder with the same gear.

    Good luck with your gig.
  6. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Sounds like to me, that your bass amp and the drummer are going to be the limiting factor in how loud you'll be able to get. The drummer has limited volume control (unless he's a really good drummer), so start there. Use your bass amp to get as much clean volume as possible, and if you still need more to keep up with the drummer, bring it up in the PA only as much as needed. You may want to consider miking the kick drum though, for a balanced sound with your bass. Let the guitar amps provide all that volume unless they're lost completely, but it sounds like they'd have plenty of power and coverage should be ok if they're set up on different sides of the stage. With the limited amount of power you have, it'll be best to leave as much PA power as possible for vocals. One thing that will immediately brand you as "not happening" is to have the vocals lost in the mix. Avoid that at all costs...even at the cost of having to bring the volume of the whole mix down (painful, I know, but most audiences want to hear vocals first and foremost). One thing to be aware of: putting low-end through a PA is the quickest way to eat up power. No problem if you've got plenty of juice available, but a problem if you don't. My best advice here would be to try to round up a larger bass amp so that you can carry all the low-end without getting into the PA. Use the PA only for vocals and kick drum.
  7. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    All of what I just said only applies if you're using a really small PA (like the one you described), of course. If you have a larger setup with subs, etc. then surely it's better to get everything in the PA and lower the stage volume. And don't neglect the monitors for vocals.
  8. bootyquake


    Mar 29, 2001
    Washington, DC
    I disagree with trying to run a whole rock band through a 300 W PA system. That's going to be a nightmare for any sound guy, and I'll tell you why.

    300 watts is a nice PA for vocals, some guitar, keys, and maybe some bass. 300W cannot possible communicate the low end that would be required for an entire drum mix or bass guitar fundamental.

    I recommend that you leave the bass, drums, and most of the guitar out of the front-of-house mix. Use your medium-duty PA to send the vocals and some guitar fills up front. Try to balance the house sound that way. Otherwise, your vocals will be crushed under the drum mix, and the bass guitar will wreck everything else. Since you'll be using an amateur sound man, likely he'll be twiddling knobs all night trying to "fix" the sound, which invariably will result in wicked feedback.

    You can't replace expensive equipment with good intentions. Frankly, there's only so much you can do with a small PA. Do it well, and tell your drummer to lighten up.
  9. MCHILDREE-I just bought the bassamp, so thats outta the question. Also, in about 6 month we are getting a power amp to run through our mixer, and some new MUCH BIGGER PA speakers. Any suggestions on what to get??? (We are limited to maybe $2,000.oo, but i can get back to you on that. Also, we are planning on keeping our old Speakers too, just so we have somethign else, cuz we dont think it'll even be worth selling em... Anywho, what do you guys think???
  10. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    I'd check Carvin.com. Their stuff is pretty decent and the prices are good. They also have a wide range of stuff available.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Marty -

    I own the PA, I use a wireless, and I go out front. My comments were directed primarily to the outdoor scene, where the bottom end goes away real fast. I do run my amp and bass with the mid boosted, and it cuts through real well with still plenty of chest in the low end. I would'nt even bring the subs to a gym.
  12. Larzito


    Aug 1, 2000
    Dallas, Texas
    Here's what I would do: Take your small Yamaha speakers and use those for monitors. Use your friend's larger speakers as mains. Tell your drummer to chill and play "not so loud." As bootyquake said, use the PA primarily for vocals. Get the vocal thing happening above all else! You can run the guitars into the PA for accent, but I bet you a big ol stack of cash that the Marshall gets turned down completely in the PA before the gig is done (in fact, the Marshall will probably be way too loud by itself). Run the bass guitar and kick drum into the PA too, but again, use only as an accent. What I mean by "accent" is that you know they are there in the PA, but they are low in the mix, adding some fullness to the sound, but not really prominent. By having stage monitors, you will be able to keep the volume more reasonable and hear what is going on. Enlist a friend with a good set of ears to be your audience sound monitor, and LISTEN when he says something is too loud! Keep in mind that what you hear on stage almost always sounds like crap (unless you are playing a very established club that has separate monitor mixes, which is rare, so get used to it). If you listen to your audience sound monitor, the band will sound good for the audience, even though it sounds crappy from the stage. Hope this helps, but I must emphasize, get the vocals right first!